Challenges

Weekly photo challenge – Muse

A myriad of subtleties within an essentially repetitive process

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Repetition is a compositional element we can use to enhance an image or tell a story.  But it wasn’t until this week’s photo challenge from Daily Press – Muse – that I thought about repetition as a personal compositional element.

I began by opening the Pictures folder on my laptop to find out what I photographed more than any other.  The result was a little surprising, particularly when thinking about the idea of repetition.

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Sorting the indistinguishable
Sorting the indistinguishable

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The Mini Jigsaw photographic series began about 18 months ago.  These are small constructions I build with a selection of pieces from a just-completed jigsaw.  Getting back into jigsaw puzzling was proving such a delight that I wanted to extend the enjoyment.

The initial aim was to select pieces that distilled something of the experience, either of the image I was working on or the process itself.  However, it became an ongoing lesson in photographing the small and awkward without the assistance of a macro lens.

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Medieval paradox
Medieval paradox

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As the series developed, I found the technical choices – how to photograph the pieces – became as important as the choice of pieces.

The background started to change.  The angle started to change.  The depth of field became a challenge.

Sometimes, these choices contributed to the story.  Sometimes, they were simply a way of managing the light so that the image on the textured surface didn’t get lost.  Sometimes, I was successful; sometimes, not.

First I decided to post the unsuccessful ones.  They were part of the story of the series’ development.  Then I decided the unsuccessful ones were too embarrassing.  I took them down.

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Point of Difference
Point of Difference

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Repetition is at the heart of the photographic process.  The technical advances that enabled images to be repeatedly reproduced marked the beginning of the photographic industry.  From large plates of metal or glass, to  small pieces of nitrate film, to the digital bits and bytes of the virtual world … images are overwhelmingly repeatable.

Repetition within an image can reinforce an idea, guide the eye or deliberately overwhelm the viewer.

Repetition in life can be boring. We are overwhelmed by monotony at a time when we crave stimulation. However, unlike the technical wizardry of today’s photographic process, where a copy can be a perfect repeat of the original, which may have itself been a copy, life’s repetition is never exactly the same.

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Just a Clue
Just a clue

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And this is where the theme of Muse re-enters the picture and I return to the point of the Mini Jigsaw series … assembling each jigsaw is both the same and different.  There are a myriad of subtleties within an essentially repetitive process.

The aim is to notice them.

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Eyes
Studying the alternative

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New York Blue
New York Blue

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Jigsaw gems
Recapturing the jewel moment

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Rosalie and Ralph
Rosalie and Ralph

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